After hitting two crucial three-pointers in the closing minutes, Taylor locked in their first home win against Newcastle after three years to earn a play-off spot.
The Eagles dominated the opening minutes of the first quarter taking the lead after a 12-4 run. However the Lions made a spectacular comeback, Alex Owumi scored seven of his 14 points in the first quarter to narrow the lead to three points, 23-26.
The Lions’ offense was flawless with all five starters finishing in double figures, helping contribute to a much-needed win before the playoffs after losing to Sheffield on Sunday.
The Lions have been out of form for the majority of the season, but managed to regain their stature in the league with a successful win over Newcastle.
“Going to the play-offs means you’ve had a pretty successful season, so to share that with these guys and to make the play-offs with London is a big deal” said Rashad Hassan.
Behind by two games, the east London team are in sixth position behind the Worcester Wolves. The win over the Eagles clinched a play-off berth with five games left in the season.
Lions forwards Navid Niktash and Hassan exploded in the second quarter scoring 18 of the Lions points leading up to the half.
Hassan notched an impressive double-double, 18 points and 14 rebounds with Alex owumi being one assist shy of a double-double. Niktash also added 16 points and seven rebounds to help the Lions close out the game.
“Even though I had good numbers, I think guys stepped up statistically. We had guys average around 15, 16 rebounds and had more rebounds and more assists than Newcastle. I think if we get more contribution from everybody then there’s no stopping us” said Hassan.
The Lions posed a threat in the third quarter coming out as a new team, limiting the Eagles to only scoring 15 points.
Attacking early into the third helped the Lions accustom a comfortable lead. Their tough defensive display was unbreakable with the Eagles being denied shots. The Eagles trailed by nine points going into the fourth quarter
Newcastle’s courageous effort
In the final minutes of the fourth the Eagles staged a comeback to overcome a nine-point deficit.
Deandre Parks and Darius Defoe combined for 13 points with Rahmon Fletcher adding a couple of game changing three-pointers finishing the night with 15 points.
Forward Scott Martin finished with 16 points, while Martin attempted to narrow the lead with deadly shooting in the fourth, but nonetheless was shut down by smart defence.
Zaire comes up big for the Lions
Zaire Taylor provided the final touches for a victory against Newcastle after a magnificent shooting performance in the fourth. Taylor scored 11 of his 17 points in the final quarter clinching a play-off spot with the season coming to an abrupt end.
“Zaire hit some big shots down the stretch, Navid hit a big three. But we kept our composure and made some big shots when we needed to,” said coach Laurent Irish.
The London Lions need to win the rest of their games to stay in the playoff race. They face the Leeds Force on the 9th April at Leeds homecourt.
The Lions look for redemption as the Force upset them at home in their last match up on the 5th March looking for a second win.
The London Lions next home game is on the 16th April against top of the table Leicester Riders at 7.30pm after two games on the road.